Monday, August 4, 2014

The Newly Remodeled Ogden Temple - Part III

I have already written two posts about the newly remodeled Ogden Temple.  I'd like to give some more thoughts on this remodeled temple.

The remodeled temple is substantially nicer than the original temple.  The original building was built in a time of austerity for the church and while it was an offering to the LORD and a temple, it wasn't as nice as many others.  Frankly, it looked odd.  With time and close inspection I came to appreciate it, but I like that they completely remodeled it.  The remodel has changed the appearance of the Ogden Temple and it has also upgraded its quality in a way that wasn't practical during the original construction in the 1970s.  According to press releases and news reports, the temple has also been structurally upgraded to withstand earthquakes, had mechanical upgrades to increase energy efficiency, and has had significant upgrades to the temple grounds including underground parking and a remodel of the Ogden Tabernacle on the block.  I hope you can understand that the remodel of the Ogden Temple was more than just to make it more aesthetically pleasing (although it definitely has).  The upgrades made the building more efficient and safer and were necessary at some point.

The results of the temple remodel are spectacular.  I am just going to focus on the ordinance spaces here, but I did go into some more specific details in my previous posts.

Ogden Temple Baptismal Font
The baptistery is still laid out essentially as it was originally and is in the same location in the temple.  The main changes here are upgrading the wall coverings, carpet, lights, etc. and the addition of murals.  A baptistery chapel overlooks the font room with a glass wall between just as in the original temple (and others such as the Jordan River Utah Temple).  The font room has 3 original murals.  The side murals are of a river making it almost as if you are in the middle of a river while you are being baptized for the dead.  This river mural looks like it is probably the Ogden River or perhaps the Weber River.  On the front wall of the baptistery there is an interesting new mural of the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist.  I really like how the baptistery has been upgraded.   The lights in the baptistery are fairly simple, but really nice cylindrical chandeliers.  More on this later.  The confirmation rooms are still on the side of the baptistery chapel and appear to have been nicely redecorated.

Ogden Temple Ordinance Room
The endowment rooms are still laid out essentially as they were in the original temple.  There are six ordinance rooms on the top level with 3 on each side of the central celestial room.  I understand that you still spend all of your time in one ordinance room and then go into the celestial room.  The four ordinance rooms that are in the corners don't have exterior windows but they do have back-lit stained glass windows near the tops of the walls and along their ceilings.  The other two ordinance rooms are slightly larger and have stained glass also along the entire back walls which bring in a lot if natural light.  The altars are a pleasing mix of stone and wood with a design carved into the wood.  This same design is carved into the woodwork at the ends of each row of seats which nicely ties the altar to those seated.  This design is also carved into the columns on the walls and was on the original Ogden Temple.  You can read more in my first post.  Finally, the lights in the endowment rooms are really interesting.  They are cylindrical but they have a lot of interesting glass almost in petals.  They are more ornate versions of the baptistery chandeliers which is a great way to show progression in the temple.  I really like these endowment rooms.

Ogden Temple Celestial Room
The celestial room is still in the same location it was in the original temple at the center of the top floor.  Just as in the original temple there is a dome in its center only now it has been upgraded to an art glass dome that matches the stained glass on the walls.  Instead of having a central chandelier, the architects have placed four stunning chandeliers in the room.  These are very interesting art deco styled chandeliers with upper and lower crystals and I assume brass.  The chandeliers have a cylindrical profile and thus are similar to the baptistery and ordinance room chandeliers but more ornate.  I love them.  I also like the torchieres which are essentially chandeliers coming up from the ground or chandelier lamps.  You can read more about these in my previous posts.  There are also really nice hand carved stone pilasters with ornate capitals that I love as I discussed in my previous posts.  The furniture in the celestial room is really nice including a nicely carved table that has been custom made to match designs elsewhere in the temple.  I think some of the furnishings on the tables are from the original temple, although I am not certain about that.  I don't recall seeing any mirrors in the celestial room, which is unique.  I am fine with not having mirrors there.

Ogden Temple Sealing Room
The sealing rooms are on the second level as they were in the temple before it was remodeled. The arrangement of the sealing rooms has changed.  Several of the sealing rooms are on the outside of the temple with stained glass windows bringing plenty of light into the rooms.  The sealing rooms were originally fairly plain, but have been redone in a grand style complete with hand carved stone pilasters, stone altars, carved carpets, and extravagant gold leaf patterns.  The desert rose pattern is used throughout the temple and it works really nicely in the sealing rooms where it works as the symbol of love for those getting married.  The sealing room chandeliers are really exceptional.  They are more elaborate versions of those found in the celestial room.  Here four side clusters of crystal lights have been added.  I love these lights and I love how they symbolically show progression from room to room in the temple.  I love these sealing rooms.  They are some of my favorite ever.  Even the really small rooms that don't have windows are stunning.

As you can see, I love the newly remodeled Ogden Temple.  While the upgrades have significantly strengthened and improved the building from a practical standpoint, they have also improved it aesthetically and architecturally and brought it up to the standard of our finest temples.

I have a little more to write.  I think I will take a break for a few days and then write about the renovation of the temple block.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Newly Remodeled Ogden Temple - Part II - The Desert Blossoming as a Rose

Stained Glass in Ogden Utah Temple with Desert Rose
This week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Ogden Temple open house.  During my last post I discussed a few architectural features that relate to the original building.  Now I am going discuss some of my other impressions.

The main themes of this temple are the desert rose (pioneer rose), grass blades, a weave pattern (from the original temple) and a sunburst design.

The desert rose design is meant to remind us of the pioneers (it is also called the pioneer rose) and the scripture where Isaiah says the desert would blossom as a rose.  I like that the designers didn't just use any flower to decorate the temple, but chose one with symbolism.  I noticed that the roses in the glass, etc. have thorns.  It may seem odd to include depictions of thorns in the temple; however, they made me think of several things.  My first thought was of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus Christ's head just before his crucifixion.  Then I thought of the message to Adam and Eve as they were expelled from the Garden of Eden that part of the curse was thorns and thistles.  Since much of the temple is related to exploring the fall, how it relates to us, etc., having thorns present actually works in the temple.  The thorns also make me think about trials and the rose flowers at the top can be symbolic of blessings we receive with our trials.

I didn't really notice the grass design, but grass is very subtle, so that isn't too surprising.  I suppose grass could relate to the pioneers, since most of the valleys the pioneers settled were mainly filled with grass when the pioneers arrived.  I could discuss scriptural links, but honestly I haven't spent much time pondering them yet.

I like how these themes were used in the remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.  The stained glass, wall carvings, gold leaf, stone work, etc. were all beautiful.

Ogden Temple Sealing Room Chandelier Detail
Another thing I loved about the temple was all the art deco styling.  Ogden has a great variety of architecture.  Many buildings have art deco styling.  Because of this, the temple's art deco elements work really well.  Art deco is one of my favorite architectural styles, so I probably would have liked these elements either way, but knowing that they fit in is nice too.

Ogden Temple Torchiere
Probably my favorite art deco element of the temple is the chandeliers and the torchieres (these are like chandelier floor lamps - they are really cool).  They are full of crystals, many contained in a really decorative metal cage (I assume brass).  The lights are really interesting.  There is a cluster of crystals and lights at the top of the chandelier/torchiere and another larger set of crystals and lights towards the bottom.

Sealing Room Chandelier
The sealing room chandeliers also have 4 side clusters of lights that are impressive.  I like how the lights show a progression with more ornate versions of the lights in rooms used for higher ordinances.

The temple also has a lot of incredible carved details such as woodwork and stone, much of it hand-carved.  The woodwork is exceptional.  On the main floor, and somewhat elsewhere, there are carved wood capitals on the columns.  They have an interesting design that is also echoed in stone carving.  In some cases, such as at the recommend desk, the square dots on the capital are echoed in the stonework.  Elsewhere there are more elaborate stone details on capitals, etc., but more on that later.

Ogden Temple Column Capital
One detail I loved was that the dark wood furniture on the main level had a matching detail carved into it which was left stained light.  This means that much of the furniture in this temple is custom built to match the built in details.  In the ordinance rooms, a pattern is carved into the woodwork on the altars that matches a detail from the temple before it was remodeled (see my first post on the remodeled Ogden Temple).  This detail is also carved into the woodwork at the end of each row of seating in the ordinance rooms.  As I discussed in my previous post, I like that how this design connects the seats to the altars, symbolically making it like you are always at the altar.  There is also a pattern carved into the celestial room table woodwork.

Ogden Temple Sealing Room Carved Stone Detail
Even more detailed versions of the carved column capitals are found in the celestial room and the sealing rooms.  I think these are the most impressive stonework detail in the temple.  Here they are hand carved stone.  According to press releases, the Ogden Temple now has more stonework than any other temple (which seems incredible, considering the pioneer temples are made of stone).  I'm not sure if the press releases just mean the finished stonework inside or something else.  I find the hand carved stone column capitals in the sealing rooms to be the most impressive stone detail.  There is also a design detail from the original temple etched into the altars.  This detail is also carved into some pilasters in the endowment rooms, etc. You can read my previous post to find out more.

There is so much more that is great about the remodeled Ogden Temple.  The new art glass is incredible.  Stained glass is used extensively in the temple.  In many locations it has simple geometric patterns, but it often contains the desert rose pattern, grass patterns, etc., and is very beautiful.  The numerous windows make this a very bright temple.  The ordinance rooms have stained glass on their ceilings and the two largest endowment rooms have large stained glass windows along the back walls.  The Celestial room has a large art glass dome in the center.  One great improvement over the original temple is that now some of the sealing rooms have windows to the outside letting in natural light.  I love what the church has done with glass in this temple.

I could go on and on, but perhaps if I stop now I will be motivated to write another post about this temple.  I am very impressed with what has been done with it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Newly Remodeled Ogden Temple - Part I

Original Ogden Temple Windows
This will be my first post on the newly remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.  I want to talk about a few details I liked from the original temple that are still present (in some form).

I want to highlight one detail used throughout the remodeled temple that artistically ties it to the original temple.

I have always liked the Ogden Temple more than the Provo Temple and this is largely because of a small detail.  While the Provo Temple has more detailed precast panels, the Ogden Temple had a decorative metal grille covering the windows.  They look dark in the image to the left, but they did have some metallic variation close up.  They were distinctive and beautiful.  Although the new Ogden Temple doesn't have these metal window coverings, I am delighted to see that the design has been integrated into the remodeled temple.

The exterior and interior stonework contains this pattern.  It is also in the stained glass windows.  In the collage I put together from the open house photos you can see on the left that this design is in the stonework. This stonework is on the sides of the windows and on the spire, etc.  The photo one in from the left shows a stained glass detail, which is not exactly the same design, but looks like it is inspired by the original detail.  The next three images show the detail in the ordinance room, first in the woodwork at the end of row of seats, next carved in the woodwork on the altar (I love that the seats and altar are linked so it is like you are symbolically at the altar even when you are in your seat), and then it is also in the stonework on the walls as part of the pilasters.  The photo on the bottom of the collage shows this pattern displayed horizontally carved into the stonework above the altar at the front of the room.  The image on the far right of the collage shows this pattern finely etched into the sealing room altars.  I love that this design detail from the original temple has made it into so many aspects of the remodeled Ogden Utah Temple.  You will also see the pattern in the celestial room dome art glass below.  (Thanks to the reader who pointed this out).

Ogden Temple Celestial Room Dome
There are two other details that I really liked about the original Ogden Temple than I notice have been included in the remodeled Ogden Temple.  The first is a mural in the lobby of Jesus Christ and Peter, James and John along with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Thankfully this mural is still on display in the remodeled Ogden Temple.  The other detail I loved was that the Celestial Room contained a dome.  The new celestial room has a new dome made of art glass.

The remodeling of the Ogden Temple has significantly upgraded the building.  While so much detail and finery has been added to the temple, I am glad that some connections to the past have also been included.  I hope to write soon about my opinion about the remodeled temple as a whole (and maybe the Ogden Tabernacle and temple grounds).  In the meantime, you can attend the temple open house through the first week of September.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meridian Idaho Temple Rendering

I have been asked to give some of my thoughts on the newly released rendering of the Meridian Idaho Temple.  So here they are:
Meridian Idaho Temple Rendering

My first impression of this temple is strength.  The side towers look weighty and strong with small windows.  The double columns in the central mass between windows adds to the feeling of strength, as does the central tower without a spire.The base appears to be a slight pedestal, adding to the effect.

At the same time, I notice the finer details above windows, on columns, along the top edges, surrounding the octagonal pyramidal apex, etc.  These show the finer beauty of the temple and help to temper the look of strength.  I notice that many of the details are either copied from the Cardston Alberta Canada Temple, or modified from it (which I am fine with).  In fact, the overall look of the temple including the lack of a spire, appears to be based on the Cardston Alberta Canada Temple.  I like the finer details in the stonework or precast concrete that we are seeing in newer temples.  This rendering appears to show a precast concrete exterior.

Viewing this rendering, I wonder how the rooms will be arranged in the temple.  I would guess that some corner towers will have staircases.  I also assume that the central tower will house the Celestial Room, which would be nice because with windows on four sides light will flow into the room no matter where the sun is in the sky.

I like the octagonal pyramid.  I read reports saying that this was a dome, but it is clearly not, it is a shallow pyramid with 8 sides.  I like the gold on this pyramid.  I think it would have been cool to see the four corner towers topper with similar shallow pyramids, but the way it is rendered now works well.

I also like that there appears to be art glass, although until it is built it will be hard to tell what the glass looks like.

So I generally like the rendering of this temple and am excited to see the interior.  I am also interested to know what any of you think about it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brigham City Utah Temple Art Glass

I went to the Brigham City Utah Temple yesterday.  I took some time to photograph the temple and particularly its art glass windows.  If you haven't been, the windows are very beautiful.  They are geometric with the exception of the peach blossom windows.  As I looked at the windows I noticed one detail that appears to be symbolic in ordinary looking windows.

On the first level the windows are all rectangular.  The photo of this door is an example.  Around the edge of the first level windows there is a border that has single small squares every so often.

One level up, on the second floor, there are circular peach blossom windows that go into the dressing rooms.  On the towers there are also some arched windows.  This already shows progressed from rectangular windows to arched and circular windows.  Otherwise the windows are very similar in style to the lower level, with one interesting variation - the decorative border glass now has 2 small squares together instead of one.  This is also true on the peach blossom windows.

Now go up to the top level of the temple and again you have arched windows with the same geometric art glass.  This time the decorative border glass has (as you've probably already guessed) 3 small squares together.

The pattern for the art glass appears to be that one square is used on the first level borders, 2 squares are used on the second level borders, and 3 squares are used on the third level borders.  There are several exceptions to this rule.  First, the front doors of the temple have 2 squares, probably because the doors are architecturally prominent.  Second, the large art glass window on the east side that goes into the Celestial Room has 2 squares on the bottom 1/3 of the window and 3 squares on the top 2/3 of the window.

So what do these squares mean.  Well, this is all speculation on my part, but I'll tell you what I see in it.  First, one, two and three squares probably signify the three heavens or degrees of glory.  Second, having more squares higher up on the temple implies progression.  Third, having 2 squares on the lower part of the main celestial room window and three squares higher up signifies progression in the celestial kingdom with various divisions in it (a similar thing was done in the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple using stars).

The one, two, and three theme is not exclusive to the art glass windows in the Brigham City Temple.  If you look carefully at the molding, tile, picture frames, etc. you will see dots used in the same way.  I had noticed this before when I was in a sealing room and thought the temple just used three dots.  Later I was using the restroom on the second level and noticed two dots in the tiles.  I assumed that they couldn't get three dot tile and had just used two dot tile to give the same dot pattern - until I looked closely at the exterior glass and realized that the two dots in the bathroom tile on the second level was probably intentional.

There are some of my thoughts and insights on the Brigham City Temple art glass and on the dot theme used in the temple.  If you would like to add anything, please comment.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Salt Lake Temple Towers Priesthood Symbolism

The Salt Lake Temple's towers symbolize the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods.  They do this many ways.  I have written on some of these before, but not organized quite this way.  Also I have some new insights.  Here are some of the ways that the priesthood is represented in The Salt Lake Temple's towers:
Salt Lake Temple (original photo)

Two sides of the temple
The Salt Lake Temple has two main sides - the east side and the west side.  Each end has 3 towers.  The west side represents the Aaronic Priesthood and the east side represents the Melchizedek Priesthood.  This two side pattern started with the Kirtland Temple which had 2 large rooms (one on the first floor and one on the second floor).  These rooms had pulpits at opposite ends that were designated for the Aaronic Priesthood on one end and the Melchizedek Priesthood on the opposite end.  The Salt Lake Temple started the practice of showing this two-ended priesthood symbolism on the exterior.  This pattern was copied for the Logan Utah and Manti Utah Temples, was brought back for the Washington D.C. Temple, and revived again for the 1980s six spire temples starting with the Boise Idaho Temple and ending with the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.  The San Diego California Temple is a unique version of a two ended temple with its two great towers.  Recently, two ended temples have returned starting with the Kansas City Missouri Temple, Brigham City Utah Temple, Rome Italy Temple, Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, Fortaleza Brazil Temple and potentially with other temples in planning.

Three towers on each end of the temple
The west and east ends of the Salt Lake Temple each have 3 main towers.  These are used to represent the priesthood leadership.  The 3 Melchizedek Priesthood towers on the east end represent the First Presidency or a stake presidency - the leadership of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  On the east side the three Aaronic Priesthood towers represent the Presiding Bishopric or a local bishopric - the leadership of the Aaronic Priesthood.  Some other temples have kept the 6 tower symbolism.  The Logan and Manti Utah Temples each have smaller side towers that are often overlooked.  The Washington D.C. Temple and 1980's six spire temples also include 6 total towers.  The Brigham City Utah Temple has also included smaller side towers to keep the 6 tower symbolism intact.  A lot of the other two ended temples lack the 6 towers symbolism.

Twelve Pinnacles
You might notice little spires on the towers of the Salt Lake Temple.  On each tower of the temple there are 3 levels of 4 pinnacles.  This makes 12 pinnacles on each tower (in addition to the main point of the tower).  The pinnacles on the east end represent the 12 apostles.  The Bountiful Utah and Mount Timpanogos Utah Temples both have 12 circular windows at the top to represent the same thing (6 go into the celestial room and 6 into the chapel).  I have read that the 12 pinnacles on the west end of the Salt Lake Temple represent the high council, although I am unable to track down this explanation and am unsure how this relates the the Aaronic Priesthood.

Different Tower Heights
On the Salt Lake Temple, the east towers are 6 feet taller than the west towers.  This is to represent the Melchizedek Priesthood being above the Aaronic Priesthood.  This symbolism has also been done in the Logan Temple, Manti Temple, and many others.  The center towers on each side of the Salt Lake Temple are also taller than their side towers representing the President of the Church, stake president, Presiding Bishop, or bishop leading among their counselors.  The Washington D.C. Temple takes this symbolism even further by having all 6 towers at different heights which would show the relative position of a first counselor and a second counselor.

The windows on the Salt Lake Temple towers also contain symbolism.  The western towers have 4 levels of windows and the eastern towers have 5 levels of windows.  These represent the offices in the priesthoods.  The four Aaronic Priesthood offices are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop.  The 5 Melchizedek Priesthood offices are elder, high priest, patriarch, seventy, and apostle.  Windows are a fitting symbol as they bring in light, as does priesthood and the revelations associated with it.  This window symbolism developed gradually - earlier temples lacked it and early plans for the Salt Lake Temple didn't include it.

So that is some of the priesthood symbolism in the Salt Lake Temple Towers.  Priesthood symbolism is important because the temple is very much about the priesthood and the 2 priesthoods are important to the ordinances of the temple.

Please comment with any insights you may have on this topic.

Here are some of my references: See additional teaching idea 1.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temple World Rooms - The Salt Lake Temple

I have written a lot about murals in the past, but as I was attending the Salt Lake Temple last weekend it occurred to me that I could write more in detail about some.  So I am starting a set of posts on World Rooms in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temples.
Salt Lake Temple World Room

World Rooms are very interesting because they have to both show the fallen state of this world while at the same time indicating the progression of man through the temple and through mortality.  The tension between these two ideas, falling and progression, makes for interesting art and architecture.  In the Salt Lake Temple, this is accomplished in several ways.

As you enter the World Room you are now one floor higher than the Garden Room, having ascended most of the Grand Staircase.  There is also now natural light from windows on the left side of the room.  The ceiling is also higher than it was in the Garden Room and the chandeliers are larger and more ornate.  Moldings are more intricate and doors are taller.  All of these elements signify progression.  But this room also is used to represent a fallen world.  This is mainly done through the fine mural adorning its walls.

Salt Lake Temple World Room
The main theme of this mural is competition and decay.  It must have been interesting for the artist to brainstorm ways to repeat these themes over and over again.  We can start with the geological components.  At the front of the room there is a large cliff that was been eroded by a river.  A desert occurs on the right wall towards the back.  A storm rages in the back right corner.  A rocky mountain covers the rear wall.  On the left wall there is a swamp with its filthy water.  Also on this wall, there is a tropical scene complete with waterfalls cutting through the landscape.  Distant mountains are also seen throughout the painting showing rugged terrain in contrast to the Garden Rooms gentle scene.

Salt Lake Temple World Room
The plants further reinforce the mural's themes.  At the cliff in the front of the room plants have been completely removed by the erosive forces of a river.  Some that remain on the bottom are bent awkwardly either by wind or want of light.  On the right wall there are two trees competing for the same space, choking each other out.    On the left wall parasitic vines are climbing on tress in the swamp.  In the front left corner there is a tree that has some healthy branches, some diseased and dying branches, and some dead branches.  In the right back corner there is a completely dead tree and another tree with some major branches missing.  There is also desert with scraggly plants.  Barren cliffs are on one wall.  There is also a tropical forest on the left wall, which would be nice if it weren't for the creatures living in it.

Speaking of creatures, the mural gets more interesting when you consider the animals depicted in it.  At the front we see lions fighting with each other in contrast to the lamb and lion lying down together in the Garden Room.  In fact, whereas in the Garden Room the animals all seemed to be peacefully grazing, in this room they are running, hiding, fighting, eating others, being eaten, starving, competing, etc.  There are two different birds in the partially dying tree that don't seem to like each other at the front.  On the right wall, some sort of cat (bobcat? lynx?) is waiting in the trees, not sure whether to pounch on two bears, or flee from them.  At the rear we see an elk, with large antlers both for defense and for quarreling with other elk.  In the left rear corner there is a hawk flying back to its nest, which would be nice if it wasn't holding a small animal (rabbit?) in its talons.  On the left wall there is some large jungle cat rather enthusiastically eating its prey.  These are just the animals I noticed in the mural last week.  They remind us that competition, violence, etc. are part of this fallen world.  Through the teachings of the temple, we learn how to follow God's laws and overcome all these fallen aspects of life.

The mural shows the decay of this fallen world, but the mural also shows progression in several ways.  The vistas are grander than in the Garden Room.  The colors used are also lighter than in the Garden room.  The entire room is larger, so the mural is also larger.  It is also interesting that the World Room doesn't feel dark, despite all the decay and death it is showing, but it does make you feel like you need to do what you need to do and then more on to greater things.

The mural also works with the room to highlight parts of the endowment ceremony.  You might notice how the stream eroded cliff at the front works with a large staircase.  This staircase allows certain characters to enter and exit the room high up, while another enters through the door at floor level.  The two doors are kept vertically apart, highlighting the difference in the characters.  I won't explain more outside the temple, but it should be obvious to the initiated what I am talking about.  The door to the Terrestrial Room is also slightly elevated showing our progression from this fallen world to a better world where we keep God's commandments and the covenants we have made.

Those are my thoughts on the Salt Lake Temple World Room and especially its mural.  Please comment with other things you noticed in it.

As a piece of fun trivia, if you look at the wall between the doors to the Terrestrial Room and the large staircase you can see an inscription by artists that touched up the murals during the depression (thanks to the commenter who pointed this out).